Pragmatic handling of relations with Myanmar does not equate to rolling out the red carpet for its ruling junta
In order not to offend the Senior General Than Shwe of Myanmar’s State Peace and Development Council, the Indian government has refused entry to a number of speakers scheduled to speak at a pro-democracy conference organised by George Fernandes, India’s former defence minister. That is a shame.
Foreign policy is best pursued with pragmatism, so while the Indian government could have discussed whatever business it wanted with the current rulers of Myanmar, it was also necessary for Indians to express their concerns over manner in which the junta is treating the Myanmarese people. If flag-waving protestors and conference delegates are an eyesore to the General, than those sore eyes are well deserved. In fact, such demonstrations would have given the Indian government additional leverage in its discussions with the General, to show that it is dealing with the junta despite popular disapproval.
By pulling yet another neighbourhood dictator out of the international doghouse, India is already according the junta more legitimacy than it deserves. Those pro-democracy speakers must be at least as welcome in India as the General is.